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Claire M. Singer * Ben McElroy

Songs Of Iceland


CLAIRE M. SINGER – FAIRGE  Also on Spotify

Fairge (meaning ‘ocean’ or ‘sea’ in Scottish Gaelic) is a 21 minute composition for organ, cello and electronics written and performed by Claire M. Singer.
The piece is commissioned by the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam (the city’s oldest building, now a museum), and was written especially for its remarkable Ahrend and Brunzema organ. “As every organ is unique, the piece will differ on other organs but that’s what makes writing and working with the organ so fascinating.”

Fairge builds up slowly, starting from the sounds of the breathing organ pipes, then introducing an almost shy cello accompaniment gradually gaining confidence and moving to the foreground. Getting stronger and louder (like ocean waves in a storm) – a massive and impermeable sound dominated by the sound of the church organ – ‘a lush harmonic backdrop against the harmonics and melody of the haunting cello’.
The sound of a church organ in full power can make man feel humble and small, and so does this ‘expansive soundscape full of intricate textures, rich overtones and powerful swells.’

The wind through the pipes of this organ can be precisely controlled using mechanical stop action. When the piece ends – the ocean storm retreats – one can hear the last breaths of air leaving the church pipes: the powerful dominance gone and replaced by a feeling of uncertainty that creeps back in together with the surrounding silence.

Songs Of Iceland


Ben McElroy has never visited Iceland himself – the inspiration came from the stunning photography by Natasha Edmondson.
‘He hasn’t laid out a clear concept for this short EP. Instead, he’d prefer this to be open to interpretation as you draw your own conclusions.’

It may not be Icelandic folk music, but still the stripped-down minimal folk presented here, on this 15 minute free (Name-Your-Pice) download from Audio Gourmetconjures images of desolate but beautiful landscapes like the one on the cover image.
Sometimes close to traditional instrumental folk music, at other times drifting away into more abstract minimalism: Ben McElroy cites Pauline Oliveiros, Sharron Kraus and Ralph Vaughn Williams as some of his influences and all these can somehow be traced back to this music.

It’s a refreshing step away from the ordinary, a new sound with deep historical roots.
After these 15 minutes I just wanted to hear more like this.

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Solo Andata, Clarie M. Singer, Derek Piotr

Solo Andata - In the Lens

Solo Andata - In the Lens


It has been quite a long wait for the follow-up of their Ritual album from 2010, but here it is: In The Lens, the fourth full-length Solo Andata album.
Kane Ikin and Paul Fiocco always had a somewhat different approach to creating their music: ‘They prefer near-broken acoustic instruments, cheap microphones and tend to turn anything they can get their hands on into a beautiful sound-making object’.
A description like this usually suggests a ‘lo-fi’ recording but this music is far from that, the ‘simple’ instruments and objects are manipulated into a rich, subtle and layered sound. Abstract music with a jazzy late-night feel – ‘swathed in a dusty, narcotic haze’.

“Dark, swaying, almost-looped melodies from piano, woodwinds and horns wrap themselves in smoky obscurity around remnants of percussion and warm beds of noise and the world around us.”

In The Lens
was created with ‘recordings found in the interstices of decades-old hard-drives, lost email threads from disused accounts, and forgotten samples recorded on cassette dictaphones’,  reworked and combined with newer elements to create an album with a unique sound and atmosphere.

Claire M Singer - Solas


Solas (meaning Light in Gaelic) is the debut album of Claire M. Singer.
In her case, the ‘debut’ is a double CD (plus a beautiful 15 minute bonus download track called Aisir), released on the Touch label, and presenting an overview of 14 years of her work in acoustic and electronic composition.
She writes for cello and electronics, solo electronics, organ and cello and solo organ.
Some of the pieces are recorded in the Union Chapel, London (where she is musical director), resulting in a warm sound. Some others are mysteriously linked to Scottish roots (recorded in Aberdeen) – and while they are not exactly ‘traditionals’, they definitely breathe a mysterious and dense atmosphere – such as The Molendinar (commissioned to celebrate Glasgow’s Molendinar Burn Project, and Eilean (for cello, piano and violin – featuring fragments played by Scottish fiddler Paul Anderson).


Derek Piotr - DronoDEREK PIOTR – DRONO

A drone is not a drone…?
Rather than focusing on a single, slowly moving chord stretched to infinity, Derek Piotr‘s drones are ‘built on harmonic centers, but they feature variation, movement and depth that transcend the limits of drone’s singularity. Rather than emphasising static monotony, each composition is a subdued journey through shifting moods and textures.’
And there is a lot of variation to be found here. Compare, for instance, the almost industrial sound of the opener track Sound to the ‘choir of automata’ on Rivulet to Gulf. Or with Lakes, a twelve-minute track composed entirely from Maja Ratke’s spliced voice.
The human voice is a source of inspiration for Derek Piotr, who worked with artists like Scanner and AGF and served as an intern to Meredith Monk. But not just the voice: most of the tracks on this album are named after bodies of water. Even if you thought otherwise: Sound is ‘an archaic term for swimming, now used to describe coastal waterways’, and the album title Drono is also Malagasy for ‘wash’.
Orders from the album from the Line (Bandcamp) shop also include two bonus download tracks by AGF and Stephan Mathieu.


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